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Friday, 17 November 2017

Government policies mean most disadvantaged 'financially worse off' - watchdog

Written by Gavin Cordon

The poorest in society are being hit the hardest by the Government's tax and welfare changes, the official equality watchdog has warned.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said an analysis of all the changes to tax, social security and public spending since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 showed the poorest 10% were set to lose around 10% of their income.

In contrast, by 2022, the wealthiest 10% will have seen a reduction of barely 1% in their net incomes, the EHRC said.

The commission said that ethnic minorities, women, the elderly and the disabled were all hit disproportionately by the changes.

EHRC chair David Isaac (pictured) said the Government could not claim to be "working for everyone", as Theresa May claimed, if its policies made the most disadvantaged worse off.

But the Government said the findings failed to take into account the success of the UK jobs market or measures such as expanding tax-free childcare, boosting apprenticeships and the introduction of the national living wage.

According to the EHRC analysis, black households faced an average 5% loss of income over the period to 2022, more than double the loss for white households.

Families with a disabled adult would see a fall of £2,500-a-year, compared to £1,000 for non-disabled families, while those with a disabled adult and a disabled child would lose £5,500.

Lone parents will see a 15% drop in their income as against losses for other family groups of between 0 and 8%, while women face a reduction of £940, more than double that for men.

Among the different age groups the biggest losers are the 65 to 74-year-olds with average losses of £1,450 and the 35 to 44 age group who are down around £1,250.

Mr Isaac said the Government should now commit to publishing its own "cumulative impact assessment" ahead of next year's Budget while reconsidering existing policies which resulted in "negative financial impacts" for the most disadvantaged.

"The Government can't claim to be working for everyone if its policies actually make the most disadvantaged people in society financially worse off," he said.

"If we want a prosperous and - in line with the Prime Minister's vision - a fair Britain that works for everyone, the Government must come clean and provide a full and cumulative impact analysis of all current and future tax and social security policies.

"It is not enough to look at the impact of individual policy changes.

"If this doesn't happen those most in need will face an extremely bleak future."

A Government spokesman said: "Inequality is at a 30-year low and there are 1.4 million more women in work since 2010.

"We inherited the highest deficit since the Second World War and have reduced our borrowing ever since, while protecting our public services, cutting income tax for 30 million people and ensuring those with the broadest shoulders contribute the most."

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